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August 29, 2009, KIGALI, RWANDA – Let me please first cover this blog entry in the Blood of Christ. My dear friends and family. I have missed you all so much. I pray for you and send you the Grace and Peace in my heart, looking forward to sharing all my adventures in Christ with you. Please forgive me for the length of time between blogs. God keeps me moving and busy.
I've been busy on my knees and on my feet praying and serving. But the privilege and joy of serving a most powerful and loving God never dims. All I do is for His Glory. And along the way, my beautiful God shines His face upon me and grants me an affirming divine smile and reward to comfort me and keep me pressing on. The challenges are ever-present, but God (Jehovah Tsebaioth) is the captain of the Heavenly army that surrounds me and charges ahead of my battles to victory. I am ever-humbled by His presence and His provisions. I know my God loves me so much as I review daily the testimony of my salvation in Christ Jesus and the miraculous way He rebuilt my life to call me out to mission for Him in Rwanda. Seven years ago I was deep in the pits of depression, today I am entrusted by God with precious souls. He took a weak meek nothing person and made her a soldier in His Kingdom army. He empowered me and He sustains me. He makes me valid in a world of obseleteness. And in all this He shows me the beauty of His works in precious creatures that bless me with their presence in my life. Thank you, God!!!! No words can express my love for you. I can only give you all my life in servitude.
What can I say? So much to tell and yet so little space and time. It has been a long and hard few months, as par for the course here in mission field Rwanda. So much has changed and progressed. I finally have a moment to reflect back and share them with you. OK. What have I been up to? As I am here, part of my mission is just to be a beacon of light (of Jesus) to those who are here to serve, to share knowledge and counsel to local and non-local servants of God, to bless people with my blessings. I have been here for 2-1/2 years now and my prayers have longed for financial stability, security, strength and direction from God.
CHANGING OF SEASONS: Tentmaking Season
As the US Presidential Office changed, so has my season here in Rwanda. The economic downswing, my lengthened stay in Rwanda, and changing of the mission guards has caused donor funds to dwindle. God has now called me, like Apostle Paul, to support myself as a “tentmaker,” working in the mission field to earn my own living funds.
As donor funds diminished, I prayed for God’s will and provisions. Do I stay and serve here in Rwanda? Do I go home? Is the mission over? But there is still so much ministering to do. As I prayed over solutions for my inability to pay expenses, God immediately answered by bringing me to the next step of stability in Rwanda. He opened doors to several part-time jobs that allow me to earn some funds while still ministering during off-hours. This was an amazing strategy of provision. Doors just opened up for me to use both my teaching and advertising skills and experiences to support myself and also bless the country as both a teacher of professionalism and an undercover evangelist in the marketplace/workforce. It’s not been easy juggling between jobs and ministry, but still God provides. By day I work in a local ad firm as a Creative Director/Studio Manager. By afternoon I either work on projects, research or assist in ministry areas, or take on private tutoring. By evening I teach Adult English to business professionals. 2009 is the year that Rwanda switched their national language from French to English so many are in desperate need to learn English to save their jobs and companies.
At the advertising company my job is not only to manage but to coach and counsel on business ethics, management, administration, organization, professionalism, etc. This country much practical training and resources beyond theory strategies. I do what I can with the experiences and knowledge God has given me in my life. I do this in secular and Christian settings.
It was tough balancing different jobs in the beginning, but I’ve gotten the hang of it now. However, I am still in need of funds for living and ministry work. Mostly, God has answered my cries regarding support funds. I still need donations, but now I can supplement with part-time employment. The rest of the time I serve and partner with the church and various ministries as well as research areas of need in educational development for the purpose of proposing a program to train teachers in regular and special education and even inclusive education. Please pray about this proposal. I am hoping to also initiate more concrete programs as soon as my 501c3 gets approved and funds are raised.
KIGALI HOPE FESTIVAL WITH ANDREW PALAU
Since January I had been corresponding via email with the Luis Palau Organization (www.palau.org) to offer some help with their evangelism festival coming to Rwanda. Knowing the challenges of the churches and different cultural perspectives on volunteerism, I knew it was not going to be easy to unite the city of Kigali, but all things are possible in Christ. Since then I was recruited for two main coordinating points, to help Palau’s partner Compassion Connect with a Season of Service Project – two medical clinics around and during the festival, and managing the Enric Sifa band for the festival.
ENRIC SIFA RETURNS TO RWANDA
Enric Sifa, the former street boy turned evangelist musician from Africa New Life Ministries, has been living and going to school in America. For the Palau Festival, he was invited to return home to Rwanda to represent his country and share his music and the Gospel to his people. I was honored to assist Enric in coordinating a local band, backup singers, needed equipment and rehearsal space and times. It was a joy to reunite the old Rwandan band about 2 years later for a spectacular event such as Palau festival. The result was very successful and Enric was able to reach many hometown people with his testimony of salvation and life change.
MEDICAL CLINIC: Reaching Mind, Bodies, and Souls for Jesus
It was a long awaited festival with little planning time, but God had His way with it. Beyond all the challenges and moving around, the clinic successfully cared for 1,700 patients in 4 days between two locations. These people where not only cared for physically, but spiritually. I saw the most compassionate medical doctors I ever met share the gospel with even more passion. I was so moved!
COMPASSION CONNECT…BEFORE THEY CAME
And even before the doctors reached Kigali, they were already saving the life of a friend my dear friend Jean-Paul who was diagnosed with diabetes and was withering away. As soon as I told Gary Tribbett, President of Compassion Direct, (www.compassionconnect.com) he hooked me up with Dr. Pamela. She emailed me lab tests to get and examined him from email and then later in-person when she arrived. Diabetes is a very common and survivable condition in the world, but in third world areas such as Rwanda, the knowledge and ability to manage it is tough. There is no government health aid and JP’s insurance was not covering lab tests or medication. Pamela helped me to pay for the lab tests and brought some sample medication to keep JP going while we tried to find some kind of medical aid. Good news! She assured me this was Type 2 diabetes not Type 1. I don’t know how he would have gotten daily insulin injections if he needed it. All these medical expenses on his modest church employee salary. If Pam and I had not intervened, I believe my friend who lost 20 lbs in one week would have been dying in the hospital. It just makes you think about how lucky we are in the United States to have federal medical aid for the needy. I think most people in Rwanda with diabetes don’t get help and just die. Changing diet in a starchy carb-infested dietary culture is tough. There are not many choices besides rice, beans, plantains and potatoes. Its tough to watch people die of something that is manageable on another side of the world. JP and I still struggle to get him stable and manageable, but thanks to Pam’s help he’s looking better and starting to gain weight. Praise God for His connections and His Grace abounding!!! Thanks Dr. Pam from the bottom of our hearts.
What Gary Tribbett says about Dr. Pam Pyle: “Pam has a heart of pure gold. Although obviously a skilled physician, her humble attitude and compassionate care led her to prayer over all her patients. Not only was she inspiring to work with, she caught a vision from God that is inspiring a greater work in Kigali . God has his hand on this precious saint.”
I have been praying for full recovery for JP and today we went to check his blood sugar levels and its miraculously reduced from a dangerous peak of 386 to 160 which is almost normal (116). Its truly a miracle. Praise God!!!! Please continue to pray for his full-recovery, that perhaps he would not need medication anymore. God is able!!!
GARY TRIBETT’S POST-FESTIVAL NOTES
“Among the highlights of the trip was our amazing team. God made us one. I could not be more proud of this group of people. I would gladly go anywhere in the world with them. They shined the love of Jesus through everything they did on this long mission. The work was hard, the hours long and the personal price was high, yet freely and generously they labored. This is truly the Spirit of God at work. We had a team of people ready to give themselves to Christ and the Kingdom of God. I want to just offer some words of praise to God for each one…Linda came through in a fantastic way. It was her dedication that landed many volunteer Doctors at the Stadium as well as translators. This was no easy task. There were hurdles throughout. She met each one in prayer and faith. She has a servant’s heart and is committed to serving Christ long-term in Kigali. We are in debt to her…The interpreters: There were over twenty-five volunteers that we worked with closely that have taken a piece of our hearts. We long for heaven all the more so we can serve the Lord in His sanctuary together. For a short week, there really was no color, only the most beautiful people you can imagine. I miss them…The Rwandan Volunteer Doctors: This has to be a highlight of our mission’s success. As one doctor told me, “This is my dream.” Here is what Rwanda, and the world need, the church to minister the gospel of Jesus to the people who need it so desperately. These men and women who came to serve their people were the most humble, gentle loving people you could ever ask for. It is our great privilege to serve alongside such beautiful people…God is present with the poor. From my perspective, I doubt it would it be possible for God to speak more clearly by words than He has through this demonstration of faith. God has chosen the poor, in the eyes of the world, to be rich in faith. Here was visible evidence that faith is greater than gold. What we could not buy—God freely gives. Isn’t this the message of the gospel? What we could not earn, or purchase, through all our good works and wealth, God gave through Jesus. We are richest when we are broken, broke and helpless; we are best when all we have is our faith in God.” (Gary Tribbett, Compassion Connect President)
A TOUCHING STORY FROM GARY “…Douglas works in this field. If anyone would be calloused, it would be Douglas . He’s Rwandan. He lives in Kigali . He sees the hurt every day…He points to a lady in a yellow blouse. “You see that lady . . . she has traveled over four and a half hours to get here.” “She said she didn’t come for pills. She needs a miracle.” She had thought there was going to be a faith healer at the stadium. What she got was us. Her daughter was nine years old. The previous year the little girl was second in her class in school. She was bright and alive. Now she was loosing her ability to hear or speak. She could barely walk—often falling down. Her memory was almost gone completely. She had been to several doctors; their diagnosis was her brain is atrophied. There is nothing they can do. Douglas turned away to avoid crying in front of me. The poverty and hurt was made very personal and individual. It was brought to our doorstep and left with us to address. It was not a plight of the masses. I could she her face and hear her cry. I could almost feel her hope fall to the floor and shatter. It was clearly impacting the heart of this precious servant, Douglas. There was nothing we could do. All week I had been going to the pharmacy to purchase medicine for one thing or another, no pharmacy in the world stocks miracles. We cannot spend our money and reverse this family’s pain. We are powerless to help. We have no resource except our faith in Christ. Could we be granted a miracle? Inside I was pleading with God. Grant us this one miracle. We can turn to none but you. Show yourself to this hurting family, Jesus. Heal the sick. Please! We asked Douglas if we could pray for her. Douglas asked her. Her mom and I led her to Dr. Bailey’s exam room. On the way I took her hand to help her walk. She fell a couple of times. As I helped her get her feet under her and regain her balance, she would look up and grin. I wondered where she got all this joy. We gathered to pray. Up walked Pastor Peter from Uganda. He took charge of the prayer and prayed like a faithful Pentecostal could. He commanded Satan to leave. He spoke healing and called on the name of Jesus. Others prayed. At the end of the prayer, this little girl turned her smiling face to Peter and spoke in very clear Kenya-Rwandan. “Good job Pastor. That was a good prayer.” You’ll recall that it was reported that she couldn’t speak, and hadn’t until that moment. Douglas interpreted for us. Then she moved her arm in a sweeping motion catching our eyes and smiling from ear to ear. “Thank you for praying. Keep praying for me. I trust God that I will be okay.” This was from a hurting nine-year-old.”
According to Palau, there were approximately 7,000 people at the two-day festival. Backstage, I saw all nations and churches come together to love Jesus. The American performers included Nicole C. Mullins and Building 429. I saw these celebrity performers walk with such grace, wanting to just serve Christ through the people of Rwanda. They reflected such humility and eagerness to love on people. I am praying to re-connect with them to do further work in Rwanda in the future. Thanks Nicole and Building 429. Please keep in touch.
Volunteerism in Rwanda is not what we think of in America. The NGOs have made volunteerism about getting compensation for time and transportation. So, from the beginning I foresaw problems. But God came through as I knew He would. Many of my friends volunteered from their hearts (however, I still gave them some transport and lunch funds because they spent all day and night volunteering for 5 days). And they told friends and so on. We were not in lack of Rwandan translators and helpful hearts. For me, to see the collaboration of locals and westerners really made my whole 2-1/2 years mean something. It was a miracle. This even was truly a first time historical event for Rwanda. The churches had never come together in such a way. It wasn’t perfect. Many didn’t come through as promised, but others did. It was tough to explain to the churches what we were trying to do. They only know the single church organized crusades, seminars, concerts, and revivals that are weekly and monthly events here in Rwanda. In fact, most go for music and spontaneous physical healings. To explain to them that western doctors and famous musicians are coming voluntarily to give love and service (not money) and just celebrate in a block party…was beyond them. They didn’t know what we were asking them to do when we asked for them to be a part of it.
All in all, Jesus had His way with everyone, with the entire event. People got to see love without color or money. I was blessed and Rwanda was blessed. I hope Palau comes back to Rwanda some day. I know now the churches will be ready to volunteer this time. Or maybe some of the connections I made from the festival will birth similar efforts.
PRAY FOR 501c3
I am still in the process of filing 501c3. I have turned in plans and budget to an organization that specializes in registering nonprofits, whom I have hired and paid in full to handle the legal filing of the organization and to consult me on setup. However, it has taken them quite some time. I spent every last dime I had in the world on this from selling off whatever I owned in the US. Please help me pray that they get everything together and file with the IRS and get approval by the end of 2009. The trend in dealings with organizations since my mission began is one of lack of communication and response to my emails and requests. Its truly so difficult for me to be living in Rwanda and still have to turn things around in the US. I have prayed so much in depth about this (whether to go back to US to live and raise funds or to stay) and I feel that God has me living here 24/7 year-round for a purpose. I have become a part of the meat of this country. There are struggles, but I am immersed in every day of movement and development. People see me as local people and they trust me to tell me the insider truths. God has given me such favor with the people. He has allowed me the privilege of hearing their minds, hearts, and voices speak about each other, about foreigners, about everything. Of course, it’s been a challenge sorting out the lies from the truths, but nevertheless, God is with me. Many people are still suffering without help while others are profiting from corruption. I see this and I pray about what I can do and how I can be different. I pray about how to share the truths without slandering…. please, pray with me about this as well. For the most part, I need 501c3 so I can start raising money through donations and grants to initiate programs where I see much need. My major project is to build the Christ Is Our Hope School Community Rwanda (Jesus’ school to raise new leaders). I will be here to manage and train, to see where the money goes.
CONTINUING MY STUDIES
I also thank God for Inspire Women in Houston who have been with me since the beginning of this all and continue to support me in various ways. Thank you IW for the scholarship to take a DTS (Dallas Theological Seminary) correspondence CD course from Rwanda this Fall so that I may continue to grow with the Word of God and develop my ministry skills. I am working on my Masters in Biblical Studies. This Fall I am taking a course in Church Leadership and Administration. I will be studying how to run, develop, and maintain an organization according to practical and Biblical teachings. All this as I work with churches and build my own organization. I pray that God will reveal to me how to establish His vision and how to advise church leaders here in Rwanda. Thanks, Inspire Women! You are my family. I love you so much.
PASTORAL WEDDING BELLS!!!
The pastor of my former church Rwanda Victory Mission got married this month in Rwanda. She and her husband, my good dear friend, are residing in USA as she completes her studies at Victory Bible Institute in Oklahoma. I thank God that they have found each other and pray for their marriage and ministry union. I was privileged to attend the "Gusaba" ("The Introduction" - part 1 of the Rwandan customary wedding) here in Rwanda. Thye will be finalizing their wedding the the USA. I wish I could be there physically, but spiritually my thoughts and prayers are with them. I am so happy for them. Congratulations and many many blessings, Josephine and Fred.
BABIES IN BIBLE STUDY
I am attempting to start an English Bible Study class during the English service at Rwanda For Jesus, my church. Please pray for this. God showed me that it was such a waste for the children to sit idle and restless during service. They should be learning the Word and growing into little Bible Leaders. Please pray for the organizing and coordinating of this. Getting things to follow-thru here is not easy.
MY LOVE FOR YOU
For all my readers and supporters, I love you sooo much. As you can see, there is so much stirring. Your prayers have been felt so much over here in Rwanda over the years as I surpassed the challenges. My family and friends, your belief in me and God humbles and sustains me. It pains me that I miss out on your lives in the US. I even miss out on the precious growing moments of my precious beloved nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters...having missed the births of two more beautiful babies in the family (all my love to Ella and Beckett). I pray for funds to be able to return soon to see these loved ones, to further organize Urukundo for the Children, and to see you all. I pray for all this and bless you all in the name of Jesus.
Let me please just end this blog with the SERENITY PRAYER that has kept me going since the day I found Jesus in 2002.
God grant me the SERENITY
to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can
and WISDOM to know the difference.
LIVING one day at a time;
ENJOYING one moment at a time;
ACCEPTING hardships as the pathway to peace;
TAKING, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
TRUSTING that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely Happy with Him forever in the next.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)
Please continue to pray for me. There are more and more things stirring and changing. I see that God is concocting something tremendous soon. I will continue to keep you posted as you are a vital part of the mission. God bless you all truly!!!!!
Love in Christ Jesus,
* For a great festival
* For His provisions in “tentmaking”
* For His answers
* For his undying abundant love
* For the special love He has brought to my life
* For the jobs and stability that is developing
* For the Inspire Women scholarship to take a DTS Masters course by correspondence
* All my USA supporters
* 501c3 for Urukundo for the Children
* For my new season in Rwanda
* For health and safety
* For provision and direction
* For my jobs to work out well
* For a special new relationship in my life
* For funds to return to US to see family and friends and to develop Urukundo for the Children
* For finishing the recording of the Bridge To Rwanda CD album to benefit Urukundo for the Children
* For the DTS class I am taking from Rwanda by CD correspondence
* For discernment about my life and ministry
* For protection from deceit
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE: If you have not already done so, please subscribe to “Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter” by entering your email address in the subscription field to the right. FeedBurner will send you a CONFIRMATION EMAIL that you must REPLY TO CONFIRM in order to activate your subscription. Please, pass the subscription and blog site on to others to share the testimony and raise support for the mission. God bless you!
PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR THE CHRIST & FOR THE CHILDREN I need your help to raise funds to build what God has called me here to build for Him. Gather friends to sponsor lunches, bike rides, run/walks, picnics, bake sales, lemonade stands or concerts for the cause of God’s ministry in Rwanda, to build Christ Is Our Hope School Community Rwanda, a center of hope and God’s blessings, to raise new leaders. There are children who need your help. There’s a nation that needs hope. Help me to stay so I can develop a better education system for them and a future hope in Christ.
TO DONATE TO THIS MISSION
PLEASE SEND CHECKS PAYABLE TO:
Urukundo for the Children (501c3 pending)
4020 Blue Bonnet Blvd., Unit G
Houston, Texas 77025
Attn: Beth Richards